Queer Catholic News Recap: Five and a Half Things To Know

Feature image via CathNews USA.

1. American Bishops Are Not Distributing The Vatican’s Survey Nationally

Last month, the Vatican sent out a synod preparatory document to all the bishops asking them to broadly share a survey addressing controversial topics such as birth control, feminism, and same-sex marriage and adoption. While bishops from other countries have posted the questions online, most American Bishops have only sent the questionnaire to clergy and a few hand-picked lay leaders. Their reason: the “very short window” (two months) is not enough time to discuss with ordinary American Catholics. While there might be slight regional variation, the general plan seems to be guessing/providing their own opinions rather than those of the laity.

UPDATE: As several commenters have pointed out, while there is no national plan for distribution, some dioceses are reaching out. To see what’s available in your area, check at your local church.

Emma Stone gives a sarcastic thumbs up

2. Cardinal Dolan Says He Was “Outmarketed” on Marriage Equality

In an interview with Meet the Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, conceded that the Catholic Church is losing the battle against same-sex marriage. ‘‘I think I’d be a Pollyanna to say that there doesn’t seem to be kind of a stampede to do this [support gay marriage],’’ he said. ‘‘I regret that.’’ Dolan credits marketing by Hollywood, politicians, and “forces like some opinion-molders” with the civil right’s popularity. Because, yes, that must be it — not, as Jon Stewart speculated, that the Church is in a morally inferior position on this one.
Nicki Minaj mouths "umm" with shifty eyes

3. Pope Francis Released An Exhaustive Mission Statement With No Mention Of Queers

Last week, Pope Francis released a 224 page paper outlining the philosophy he says will guide his papacy. In it, he makes many bold remarks denouncing economic inequality and free market capitalism; nowhere, however, does he directly address queer people. Katie McDonough for Salon wrote:

“As the pope’s explicit and specific critique of capitalism’s excesses shows, it is incredibly necessary to talk about these things. Because widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people — which people like Rick Santorum and others defend as a matter of “faith” — results in widespread violence, disproportionate income inequality, job discrimination and other injustices that the pope nominally opposes. … LGBTQ people don’t need Catholics to be their friends, they need them to stop actively challenging their rights in state legislatures and at the federal level.”

Santana gives a catty smile
4. The ACLU is suing American Bishops For Harmfully Negligent Policies on Women’s Health

In a surprising move, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for their policy on abortions. The lawsuit is on behalf of Tamesha Means, a woman who contracted two serious infections at a Catholic hospital when her water broke at 18 weeks. Although the fetus she was carrying had no chance of survival, Means was repeatedly sent home bleeding and in pain; induced labor or a termination of her pregnancy would have been in violation of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, issued by the bishops. And this is not an anomaly; in the same hospital, four other similar cases were found where the hospital failed to induce labor in pregnant people whose membranes had broken before their fetuses were viable. With numerous recent mergers between Catholic hospitals and secular systems, such severely constrained care is now the only option in many areas.

Tina Fey: Um, no, thank you, please

5. Pope Francis Is Setting Up A Commission on the Priest Sex Abuse Scandal

On Wednesday — just two days after a UN panel criticized the Vatican over its handling of abuse cases — Pope Francis announced the creation of an advisory commission on sex abuse. While the makeup of the commission (and, more importantly, the amount of authority it will actually have) remain unclear, the goal is for the panel to advise Pope Francis on how to protect children from pedophile priests and how to counsel victims. Which is all very good, but also, it’s been like a decade since the scandal broke. Is this just politically motivated lip service, too little, too late? Let’s hope something good comes of this… but nobody’s going to be shocked if it doesn’t, you know? We’ve been disappointed so many times.

Doesn't seem like you can believe in much anymore.

5.5 The [Christian, Not Catholic] Salvation Army Took Back The Whole Anti-Gay Thing

Sort of. After removing two links to “ex-gay” organizations from their website, Director of Communications Jennifer Byrd wrote in an apology letter, “The Salvation Army does not consider homosexual orientation a sin. Please know that we serve anyone who comes to our doors without discrimination.” She blamed the “oversight” of the links on a “computer glitch.” Riiiiight.
Rihanna saying "You look so dumb right now"

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


    • I should also mention the university still has an active Christian Union, Taize, and Saint Vincent de Paul society on their campus so Christian students are also still getting plenty of university supported outlets, which are not selling this gay cure nonsense. So everybody wins!

  1. I can’t speak for the other parts of the country, but in Pittsburgh, the bishop is circulating the Vatican’s survey and has set up an online survey for lay people to reply. Our parish links directly to it from their homepage and it’s been mentioned in mass announcements each week as well. Hopefully other regions will do the same!

    • I’m very glad to hear this. My parish hasn’t announced anything of the sorts, which was disappointing for me. Glad some areas are getting the survey circulated regardless.

  2. re: 3

    if I remember it well there are some oblique references to same-sex marriage being very bad for society

    • AH – found it – section 64 references “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care (2006)”, but the sections before can be read to imply a lot as well – anyway, section 64 says:

      “The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom”.[59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.”

      Now, the quote in that section is from Ministry to the Homosexuals or w/e, but the Pope doesn’t quote the bit right before that in the Ministry, which is:

      “It remains true that some persons identified as homosexual are victims of violence. The fact that homosexual acts are immoral may never be used to justify violence or unjust discrimination.32 At the same time, there are features specific to contemporary Western culture that inhibit the reception of Church teaching on sexual issues in general and on homosexuality in particular. For example, there is a strong tendency toward moral relativism in our society.”

      Or the bit right after the quote, which is:

      “[In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom.] In fact, the Church actively asserts and promotes the intrinsic dignity of every person. As human persons, persons with a homosexual inclination have the same basic rights as all people, including the right to be treated with dignity. Nevertheless “‘sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc., in respect to non- discrimination.”33 Therefore, it is not unjust, for example, to limit the bond of marriage to the union of a woman and a man. It is not unjust to oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice should belong to marriage alone.”

      Basically, the Pope is talking about homophobia and condoning it, but he’s doing it in ways that aren’t very obvious to people who aren’t homophobes don’t figure out how homophobic he is?

      • I so love that you put that here! I wasn’t aware of that outside context of that ministry. Oblique indeed.

        For my part, I felt encouraged when he directly brought up the idea of a hierarchy of truths again (What counts above all else is “faith working through love”), and that he called for people to be “bold and creative” [when evangalizing]. Also, this:

        “In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel,even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated.Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives.Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God ‘are very few’.”

        This may be (/probably is) wishful thinking, but I like to imagine he had certain social issues in mind there.

      • You know, this is why every time i see people posting on Facebook about how great the Pope is, i never really quite feel it myself. Because it’s like, okay, great, he takes care of the poor and has eschewed the traditional trappings of the office of Pope, but he still sits there & thinks that anyone who isn’t straight is still “immoral”? That’s it’s “not unjust” to refuse to grant marriage & its societal benefits to gay people, because they’re “immoral” just because they’re not straight? To discriminate against gay people? That treating gay people in a non-discriminatory way is somehow not a “mature moral value”; that it shows a lack of critical thinking?

        I know i’m just rehashing &, haha, preaching to the choir, but i just. Am so frustrated. And i feel like, if i were to try & point this out to people who seem to be solely singing Francis’ praises, they’d basically say, “Oh, well, the good cancels out the bad!” As if this means nothing, as if it’s not the continuation of what the Church has always done. They hail him as some sort of wonderful change in the line of Popes, but they ignore bits like this. Maybe i’m doing the same thing, just coming from the other direction, but it’s kind of more like a slap in the face, when you hear how, oh, he does all this ~great stuff~ but wait, you homosexuals over there are still bad & immoral & it’s still considered okay for the Church to discriminate against you.

        And i’m related to Catholics– my mother was raised Catholic– & i’ve seen this kind of ingrained homophobia in action, along with all the other crap (a charming tempest of guilt & holier-than-thou-ness). It frustrates me to no end. It’s made almost more agitating not just by the whole image of “Pope Francis, Good Guy,” but the fact that it’s framed in this passive-aggressive, “we don’t haaate you, we just think you’re immoral & wrong & bad & unnatural!” way. Almost as if they think they’re really being decent people & deserve some sort of recognition for being so very tolerant.

        Ugh i’m sorry i just wrote a ranty rambly book of metaphorical table flipping, but this just gets under my skin so bad.

  3. Thank you for this article! It helps to have recent events summed up in one place.

    #1 especially makes me see red in ways that I normally reserve for corrupt politicians… not enough time? What a ridiculous excuse in the age of the internet.

  4. This is most certainly not true about the survey not being distributed. In all the bullitens in the diocese of st Petersburg Florida AND Orlando we had articles specifically discussing the issues in the survey and a link to the diocesan website so we can take it (which I did). I can link the survey here if any autostraddlers want to take it. Just let me know

  5. it’s up to you to approve or disapprove, identify or not identify with the church, but there were decades and even centuries of stuff leading to these things. A Pope appointed in March won’t click his heels and fix them. And the GOP (and GOP VOTERS) who enabled the fronting of the right-wing bishops in major cities of this country are as much to blame as anybody for some of the reactionary clergy we’ve got here. I’m not trying to sound patronizing, but you should check out some of the political writing of Teddy White and others to see how that alliance was struck, and how long it’s existed. Obama was smart to call them on it in ’12.

    And Dolan thought he might be Pope (snorts). Anyway, good for the ACLU for fucking with the bishops.

  6. Some of the wording in that Salon article rubs me the wrong way. ” LGBTQ people don’t need Catholics to be their friends…” Uh, way to ignore the existence of LGBTQ who are also Catholics???

    It’s a shame because I agree with most of the article, but I resent the implication that I (and thousands of others) don’t matter or even exist.

    • If I had a nickel for every time I dealt with the unfortunate juxtaposition of Catholicism and queerness (from both sides), I would have enough money to buy a billboard saying “Catholic Queers: Quietly (or not-so-quietly) rebelling in the pews since pretty much the beginning.”

  7. Hey Laura Mandanas? I love a Catholic Autostraddle article as much as the next person (okay, way waaay more) so thanks, but, um, number one on the list? It’s not true.

    Lots of dioceses are distributing the survey — online, no less! — so do you think that you could amend that? I’d hate for even one Catholic queer (Cathueer? Queertholic? We need a catchy moniker) to miss out because they read on Autostraddle (which is, after all, basically another kind of Gospel truth) that it wasn’t available in the states.

    Thanks! Great article!

    • EmVee, thank you for the feedback! I’d hate for anyone to miss out if there’s something available to them. I’ve adjusted the header and placed an addendum to make it clearer that there may be local opportunities; just nothing on the national level.

  8. Thank you for putting all of the relevant Queer Catholic news in one place and illustrating them with hilariously perfect GIFs.

  9. I have many conflicting feelings about this new pope. Reading the Vanity Fair article about gay priests in the Vatican only added to them. But the Evangelii Gaudium read like a Sarah Kendzior article (as Eric Garland and others pointed out). I think the thing that Pope Francis is called to do is to smash capitalism / remind the Church that Jesus called us to serve the poor and care for widows and visit people in prison, not harass women getting abortions. It’s a question of focus. I just don’t know that he’s called to be the BFF of the Gays. It might not be his special talent.

    Honestly, I think the Pope could start hosting Pride events at the Vatican and Rick Santorum would still hate us. Remember when the Episcopal church split in two over gay clergy? I honestly wonder if something like that could happen to the Catholic church if the Pope were too active in including us.

    • agreed- this pope has pretty explicitly stated that a) he thinks there’s way too much focus on us queers, and he really thinks attention should be directed to bigger more important things, like the poor, rather than making statements about whether our existence is essentially the end of the world, and b) he doesn’t feel it’s his place to judge.

      The “who am I to judge?” quote said pretty clearly to me that he’s not going to be our BFFs, but also implied that he’s not going to waste his time condemning us for existing.

  10. “LGBTQ people don’t need Catholics to be their friends, they need them to stop actively challenging their rights in state legislatures and at the federal level.”

    Well, yes we do. But friendship could and should play a very active role in making that happen. Dismissing personal outreach is absolutely unhelpful.

    Also, considering the deep encoding of acceptable social and romantic behavior within Catholic Catechism, it’s pretty remarkable that there’s a Pope who’s been even this supportive. The Church was never going to change over night, and at least this Pope is requiring church leadership to think critically about how they’re administering to their parishioners. I’ll take baby steps as long as they’re in the right direction.

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